Former Plains High School four-sport athlete Jessica Thompson admits she is used to staying busy and her rigorous schedule in high school should adequately prepare her for future endeavors at Brigham Young University.
Thompson, who will now join her sister Leah on the BYU track and field team, said she became accustomed to balancing an athletic and academic schedule that earned her a dual scholarship at BYU.
“I guess I am used to always being busy all of the time,” Thompson admits. “I’ve (balanced school and different sports) since I was in junior high and made it a habit.”
Thompson, who became a three-time state champion for the Trotters, winning two state champions in the shot put (2017, 2018) and also holds a state championship title in the discus from 2017, has succeeded in splitting time between softball and track using a systematic approach towards achieving her goals.
“You just do it and don’t’ tell yourself (the task) is hard and if you tell yourself that, it never becomes hard,” Thompson said.
It also helps the soon-to-be BYU product admits to embracing challenges.
“I always have liked a challenge,” Thompson said. “This year, I would go to track practice first and I would do my throwing. Then, I would go to softball practice and I would stay with my dad (David Thompson) to throw pitches and take grounders. Sometimes I would throw (discus, shot put and javelin) after that, too. I would come home, do my homework. For the most part, I would have my homework done during lunch at school.”
Thompson, who is the youngest of seven brothers and sisters, admits to the success her older siblings had in sports, specifically her older sister Leah Thompson, providing her with some intrinsic motivation to succeed in sports.
“I always kind of felt outshined by my older brothers and sisters, and that made me mad,” Thompson said. “It really made me work harder to a fault.”
Thompson didn’t just excel on the track but was the key component as the Plains-Hot Springs No. 1 pitcher on a team that qualified for divisionals, was an All-State Montana High School Association Class C basketball player and a three-time state winning track thrower for the Trotters during her high school career.
With all of these accolades and then some, Thompson said she felt her proudest accomplishment in high school was being a member of the Plains volleyball team that qualified for divisionals this season.
“I am more proud of our volleyball team and how far we came in the last few years,” Thompson said. “The two teams we lost to in divisionals got first and third at state. We were really close and that was a good feeling.”
Thompson follows family tradition headed to BYU
Jessica Thompson, the soon-to-be member of the Cougars’ track program, comes from a long line of family members who attended BYU and participated in athletics for the Cougars.
The most noteworthy athlete being her uncle Wayne Baker, who played in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, and the then Los Angeles Raiders. Thompson said she choose BYU because it was a “fit.”
“I haven’t really thought much about it honestly, BYU was just a fit,” Thompson said. “My new (track coach) is a former Olympic competitor down there so that will kind of cool to be able to work with talented people. I had two of my cousins throw jav and the rest of my family liked it so I thought ‘it wouldn’t be that bad.’”
Despite of all of Thompson’s accolades, Plains High School coach Denise Montgomery decided to admit to not fielding many calls with interest regarding Thompson.
“You know, I didn’t get any calls (from colleges) interested in Thompson,” Montgomery admitted. “Montana State knew, for example, that she was playing softball (at the same time). It is difficult when you have a two-sport player to give the teams the same energy and emotion they deserve as an athlete to jump from one sport to the next. I am sure it wasn’t easy for her.”
Montgomery expounded on the difficult task of balancing two sports, something Thompson has done since she was in junior high.
“It is not easy to do that and she managed to (balance two sports) pretty well,” Montgomery admitted. “Because of Thompson’s dedication to softball, Montana State University didn’t call her up because they wanted her to pick one sport and commit to it.”
Now that Thompson has fully committed to track, Montgomery said she is “excited” about her ability to flourish as a thrower in college.
“BYU is getting a good one once they get her on a weight program because our school hasn’t had a weight program class until this year,” Montgomery said. “It will be really interesting to see how much her distances jump up there and it will be fun to watch because she is so athletic and super strong.”
Montgomery said she felt it was rare to have an athlete as dedicated as Jessica Thompson.
“It wasn’t like she didn’t work very hard at everything that she did,” Montgomery said. “It is going to be amazing to see her progress when she dedicates her attention to track and gets on a weight program because she is so talented and strong. When her mind is focused on one sport, it’ll be fun to watch the progress that happens.
To say Montgomery and her coaches have been spoiled with a wealth of talent over the last four years might be an understatement. The wave of track talent to walk the halls of Plains over the last five years is tremendous.
Kimberly Earheart and Carley VonHeeder are both members of the University of Montana Bobcats, Jessica Thompson and her sister Leah Thompson both committed to Brigham Young University, and three years ago, Hailey Phillips (sprinter) and Kayla Holmes (thrower) became members of the University of Montana Grizzlies’ track and field team, all NCAA Divisional I programs.
As Thompson prepares to move forward at BYU, she said she plans on becoming a pre-med major and will focus on the short term, along with being open to other possible career paths in her studies at BYU.
“I have three different (majors) that I am interested in right now,” Thompson said. “I think I will take pre-med, which is something that you have to start on your freshman year. I am thinking really short term right now.”
Thompson, who has balanced athletics and academics up to this point, said she anticipates she will have continued success throughout her career at BYU.
“I mean you never really know (how things will work out) and at BYU, they’ve provided a lot of help (for student-athletes),” Thompson said. “You are required to spend 10 to 14 hours a week as a student-athlete at the student center. I feel if I need help, I’ll get it. I feel like I’ll be OK, but you never know.”
Throughout Thompson’s career at Plains, she has always focused on doing her best, and that mentality is something she hopes to carry with her at BYU.
“I feel like if you are just worried about succeeding all of the time, you will think too much about it and get nervous about it,” Thompson said. “I just try to relax and do what I know how to do.”
At Plains, Thompson demonstrated she knew how to win and will most likely carry that mentality over into her new life at Brigham Young.